Tarkine Walking Tour in Tasmania with Park Trek Walking Holidays
This Tarkine walking tour in Tasmania will introduce you to one of the state’s most beautiful – and controversial – wilderness areas. This five-day experience includes a boat trip along the magical Pieman River, and the chance to take in the stunning vistas from the top of Mount Donaldson. You’ll stay at the remote Corinna Wilderness Experience lodge. Transport, twin-share accommodation, most meals, guided walks and national park entry fees are included. Duration: 5 days
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I am wandering through what could easily be a lost world.
Giant myrtles and prehistoric tree ferns line the trail, while here and there, dappled sunshine breaks through the thick canopy, momentarily bathing a lucky ground fern in glorious light. We’re told that the deep green landscape hasn’t changed all that much in 60 million years and it certainly does have a Jurassic Park feel.
The only sounds are very occasional birdsong and our footsteps crunching on the mulch underfoot. It’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts. In the distance I can also hear the very faint sound of the Philosopher Falls, our destination on this walk. All in all, it’s a stunning start to this five-day Tarkine walking tour in Tasmania with Park Trek Walking Holidays.
Watch our video of this experience:
Welcome to The Big Bus tour and travel guide. In this video we join Park Trek Walking Holidays on a fabulous five-day short break hiking through the spectacular Tarkine wilderness in Tasmania’s northwest.
The Tarkine (derived from the name of the Indigenous family groups that inhabited the area at settlement) is located in the state’s northwest and is officially recognised as Australia’s largest stretch of cool climate rainforest and the second largest in the southern hemisphere. Beyond that its legitimacy is less clear. The Tarkine is not a national park or protected area as you might expect. Just 4% of the 433,000 hectares recommended in 2013 by the Australian Heritage Council for National Heritage List status was approved by the then federal Labor government.
The Tarkine today remains largely a loose collection of reserves that fall under the control of Forestry Tasmania. Logging and mining have occurred across the region throughout the past 150 years and continue in several areas. But thanks to the ongoing efforts of environmental campaigners, the possibility of future protection for the entire region remains very much a live issue.
This Tarkine walking tour is fully guided and includes comfortable accommodation and most meals. We meet our guides in Launceston and make our way northwest to the tiny seaside town of Penguin, then southwest towards the fringes of the Tarkine region.
Our warm-up walk is the aforementioned 90-minute return trip to Philosopher Falls. Having experienced just a tantalising taste of the rainforest, we make tracks deep into the heart of the Tarkine and on to the Corinna Wilderness Experience where we’ll spend the next three nights.
Corinna was at its peak in the 1870s and 80s as a gold rush centre. As the fortunes and interest of prospectors waned, the remote outpost faded into densely forested obscurity and for almost a century it remained little more than a ferry crossing point for the mighty Pieman River.
Today Corinna offers visitors to the region self-contained chalet style accommodation, a central restaurant/bar which operates in peak season, and a range of adventure-based activities and walks. Some of the original buildings still stand and are used for accommodation. The whole place has a frontier-like feel. Online addicts, it’s time to go cold turkey. There’s no Internet or TV. What there is instead is a chance to totally disconnect.
The following morning we get underway early for an 8km return trek to the top of nearby Mount Donaldson. From the peak the sheer scale of the Tarkine becomes clear. Great swathes of forest stretch for as far as the eye can see. Majestic peaks punctuate the horizon and the Great Southern Ocean can also be seen.
The Tarkine has many faces as it turns out. The following day at sunrise we board the historic Arcadia II to explore the Pieman River and what is loosely known as the Pieman Heads stretch of coastline. It’s one of the absolute highlights of this Tarkine walking tour.
The river (which got its name from an escaped convict pie-maker by the name of Thomas Kent) at sunrise is cool and crisp, with a light mist rising from the thick forest on either side — much of which clings precariously to the steep escarpments. We disturb a group of Black Swans swimming in the shadows. They run along the top of the smooth, tannin-stained water for a considerable distance, squawking indignantly, before finally launching themselves into the air. It’s not a quick getaway.
The rising light casts amazing reflections on the wake of the sturdy Arcadia, a boat with a long and auspicious history (which Dale the captain will be happy to share with you). She’s been ferrying passengers up and down the picturesque Pieman since the 70s.
We go ashore where the Pieman meets the Great Southern Ocean for an eight-kilometre walk around the jagged coastline. It’s a photographer’s paradise, full of the most incredible textures, including rock formations, shells and smooth pebbles to name a few.
Things come full circle on the final day of the trip with a 90-minute walk through the pristine rainforest surrounding the exotically named Montezuma Falls, located near the small town of Rosebery in the West Coast Range. Montezuma Falls is Tasmania’s highest waterfall, which can be viewed either from the base of the falls or from a swaying suspension bridge.
Soaring myrtles again dominate the landscape along with the ubiquitous giant tree ferns. For me though it’s the tiny details that make this particular landscape so special. Every square metre seems to support its own multi-layered eco-system, interconnected by a complex road system of rotting logs, fallen branches and ever-present fern fronds. It’s the Tarkine’s very own Emerald City.
The old railway sleepers that now form part of the walking track, are almost all that remains of a mining tramway that traversed the forest here, transferring minerals, timber and later even passengers on a scenic ride past the plunging falls. Look out for the railway bridge which is slowly being reclaimed by the forest.
Our guide Greg tells us that the minerals once mined here were bound for Germany pre World War I to produce munitions. No one working in the mines here in distant Tasmania could possibly have had any inkling how that chapter in history would play out.
It’s the intriguing interplay of history — both natural and man-made — that makes this Tarkine walking tour so special; that and the chance to walk the main street of the shimmering Emerald City.
Adam travelled as a guest of Park Trek Walking Holidays.
Additional images: Bigstock
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.